Ye Olde Drugstore. 1976. Margaret Evans Durham. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries. Wilson Library North Carolina Collection. 

North Carolina was a spotlight for protest and politics starting in 1960 with the first sit in protest against segregation in Greensboro at the Woolworth store. [1] This event was the beginning of the force for change in Southern states, specifically North Carolina. While Brown v. Board called for desegregation in 1954, Chapel Hill waited until summer of 1966 to desegregate the entire town.

Sutton’s Drug Store opened in 1923 far before the integration of Chapel Hill, yet while it took the town a while to desegregate, Sutton’s and multiple other business started integrating in  1963. [2] In 1976, Margaret Evans Durham wrote the book “Ye Olde Drugstore” to document her many encounters with her favorite customers. Along with these encounters, she describes how Sutton’s Drug Store was more than just a pharmacy or restaurant, but a place “filled with laughter, gossip, hunger, tears, and lets not forget love.” For the longest time, food has been characterized as a sense of community, culture, and family; Sutton’s was and is a place where each of these characteristics are shown through the aesthetic, the food, and the people. “I think this place has a magnetic atmosphere, once you have been in Sutton’s you just have to come back again.” Durham’s book is full of her most memorable encounters as a waitress and the feelings the Sutton’s provided for both workers and customers no matter the day or the situation.

“Ye Olde Drugstore” is an important example of what life in Chapel Hill was like for the everyday person during the 1960s and 1970s. While outside the doors of Sutton’s Drug Store remained issues ranging from household stress to the sense of not belonging through segregation, inside was a place that one was able to meet someone who might not look like them, had different things going on in their life, but the two could enjoy a burger and milkshake and feel as though they were at home. This is a very different feeling from a previous decades when not all were welcome, but this feeling of home would continue to remain the same while expanding as decades went on.

[1] The Sixties: Moments In Time. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2018, from

[2] Franklin Street: The Heartbeat of Chapel Hill. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2018, from